WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senate author of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, released the following statement regarding the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearing today on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD):
“The goal of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is to ensure that people with disabilities across the globe have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Americans with disabilities already enjoy the rights to access, opportunity, and economic independence at home. However, we live in an increasingly global economy, and U.S. citizens with disabilities— including our veterans—frequently face barriers when they travel, conduct business, study, or reside overseas.
“The United States is viewed as the global leader on disability rights, and as such, officials from the U.S. shared our nation’s experience and expertise when the United Nations was drafting the CRPD. The U.S. should be at the table with the parties to the CRPD as they work to enact the treaty and implement disability rights laws in their countries.
“I am hopeful that in working on a bipartisan basis with my colleagues, and by continuing to educate other members on the importance of the treaty, we can get the support we need to ratify the treaty during this Congress. I applaud Chairman Menendez for his attention to this crucial treaty, and look forward to our continued work together.”
An American delegation under President George W. Bush negotiated and approved the Convention in 2006. The United States signed the treaty in 2009 and submitted it to the U.S. Senate last May for its advice and consent for ratification; a vote on the CRPD fell five votes short in 2012. The treaty requires no changes to U.S. laws or new appropriations.